5 Life Lessons from My New Beachcombing Hobby

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Here in Northeast Ohio, beachcombing seems to have blown up this summer, probably as a result of the pandemic. Local beach glass Facebook groups are bursting with new members, & a radio station recently ran an interview with a beachcomber about the best spots in Cleveland (which revealed a bit of an open secret, flooding that beach with new hobbyists). 

I'm new to beachcombing myself, so who am I to judge? As the pandemic-laden weeks carry on, I'm finding my beachcombing hobby to be more & more integral to my mental health – an opportunity for me to be outside & in nature, mind clear & heart open, just me & my thoughts & my headphones & my digging hands.

Sometimes when I'm out there, digging around & plucking little treasures out of the sand, I think about the beachcombing lessons that, strangely, seem to translate directly into life lessons. Why not share 'em?  

1. There's enough to go around.

Sometimes, I get to my favorite beach-combing spot, & it's filled with people – & some of them are intense. They're out there with tools & knee pads & big old buckets. They, like... professionals. And I get intimidated. "I'm never gonna find anything," I tell myself. "All the good stuff is gone."

But that's not true. No one person can have eyes on the entire beach at once, & the lake is always giving (& taking away). You can pick a spot clean, walk away for 10 minutes, & come back to find all new glass there waiting for you. Don't let someone else's presence deter you from doing your thing.

2. Find joy in the little things.

Some days, there are plenty of big, exciting, unusual pieces to be found; other days, there just aren't. Those days are the disappointing ones, the ones when I think, "Eh, why bother?" But then I sift away some sand & I find a tiny, perfectly polished glass pebble, or a shard of bright blue glass. 

They're nothing special, technically, but who says something has to be rare or unique in order to be special? Things don't have to be big & amazing & unusual to matter, even if they only matter to you. 

3. Adjust your eyes.

Sometimes I get so caught up in looking for one particular thing – say, green glass pebbles – that my eyes train themselves to look for only that thing. That means I find alll the green glass pebbles... but my eyes sweep right over other interesting things, like big chunks of clear glass & "lucky stones" & bones & other items.

Sometimes we get so caught up in seeing what we're looking for that we miss everything else. How often do we turn on our tunnel vision & forget to notice the world around us?  

4. Manifest your marble...

One of the most coveted Lake Erie beach finds is marbles, which have a variety of potential origins. They're not rare, per se, but they are uncommon & thus thrilling (not to mention pretty). 

I believed I was going to find a marble. I went into things believing I would find a marble. I specifically hit up the beach on my birthday saying, "This is the day I find my marble." And wouldn't you know it? I cleared off a layer of rocks, & there it was, glittering in the sun. Lake Erie's birthday gift to me.

I'm not a big woo-woo kinda gal, but I believe in telling the universe what you want. If nothing else, in telling the universe, you're also telling yourself - & then perhaps you're more inclined to work toward it & ultimately make it happen.

5. ...but enjoy the process instead of focusing on the outcomes.

There was one day there when I was so focused on finding a marble that anything else I found felt like a disappointment. I was frantically digging through piles of pebbles in an effort to find the elusive target treasure, & I wasn't even enjoying the adventure itself. 

Fortunately, I was able to take a moment to realize what I was doing, & I took a moment, took a step back, & reminded myself that it was not all about the eventual find. It was about the adventure of getting to it, & even if I never did, I was going to enjoy that adventure along the way.

These lessons keep coming to me as a dig, & they're bringing me peace & comfort during troubling times. I'm so grateful for life on Lake Erie & for the treasures the lake continues to share with me.

What has your hobby taught you about life? Follow my beachcombing adventures over on Instagram.

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